Australian science body reaps benefits of ITIL

Framework allows IT at ANSTO to operate more effectively

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has implemented an award-winning Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) deployment to improve internal IT service and performance.

The organisation uses IT principally as a tool to assist with experiments in its nuclear reactor and not as a revenue-generator, although it is also used in finance, accounting and communication operations.

ANSTO delivers specialised advice, scientific services and products to government, industry, and research organisations. It also houses Australia's only nuclear rector and the third of its kind in the world, OPAL, which is used for research and nuclear medicine production.

ANSTO information services manager Mike Beckett heads-up a team of 55 IT staff, who work separate to the organisation's 10 support crew who assist scientific operations. Its networks are similarly divided between "corporate" operations and the reactor, which has its own IT instruments and requirements, spread over an 11 hectare campus with two main sites and a separate Sydney office.

Beckett says the "pain" phase of the ITIL roll out, including service desk and management of incidents, capacity, availability and change, was completed in June last year.

"The thrust of the exercise is to turn the IT group around, so we focus on the user needs and the business requirements," Beckett says.

"We started on the strategic issues common to IT and now we are moving to the deep-seated difficult areas like configuration and release management.

"We can, to an extent, use templates from the UK government, which created ITIL, and we have had really good results [because] the problems like broken processes and a lack of knowledge are common to IT shops."

Performance levels and expectations are defined in service level agreements and compared to external benchmarks. Beckett says external benchmarks, crucial to maintain a high service delivery, were obtained from various industry sources including the Australian Government Information Management Office, which assisted with its telecommunications and Microsoft licence agreements.

Beckett, who has previous ITIL experience in government IT shops, recruited an ITIL expert to assist with deployment timelines in what he describes as "the best money we have spent".

The ITIL version 2 deployment is a phased roll out, which began with a focus on end users including service, problem and incident management, and followed with capacity and availability management.

Release and configuration management will be rolled out this year as the organisation moves to ITIL version 3. During this time Beckett and his team will centralise all software within the IT department and deploy its monitoring platform to establish the licence profiles of each of the 1200 PCs, Macs and Linux-based devices.

Software licences covering about 150 applications have been extracted from business units and centralised within a database held by the IT service desk. Expired and unused licences, many which have been converted for multi-user and enterprise usage, can now be tracked within the database.

"Much of this work is low-hanging fruit, but you need to get on to them," Beckett says, adding it has recently reviewed its SAP contract for maintenance and support.

Beckett, a long-term advocate of IT and project management frameworks and policies such as ITIL and Prince2, plans to put his staff through additional ITIL training during the version 3 transition this year. Staff training for version 2 began in January 2007 and was completed in September last year, which he says filled knowledge gaps and ensured consistent service delivery.

"If people are trained in ITIL or [an equivalent] framework, they can move within the industry to process-orientated environments ... it is extremely valuable to everyone in IT," Beckett says.

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Tags managementITILANSTOmike beckett

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